The Origins of Valentine

Today’s a day to celebrate or ignore.  I’m indifferent to Valentine’s Day, generally. 

A single day of the year where we ought to be telling our lover, partner, spouse how much we love them.  We’re bombarded with soft focus images of romance, predominantly displaying two heterosexual people kissing. 

Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been the buy flowers and chocolates Hallmark commercial day.  

For more than 1200 years, the people of Italy celebrated the turning of winter to spring with a multi-day festival to increase fertility, get raunchy, and enjoy the carnal pleasures of the body. In some versions of Lupercalia history, women who wanted to be blessed with fertility for the year gathered together en masse to run through the streets.  Men would stand alongside that street and throw the tail of their whips.  If a woman was struck, yay, fertility. 

It was in the 6th century AD when Lupercalia was co-opted by the Roman church and rebranded as St. Valentine’s Day.  

Valentine was a rebel against authority.  When Emperor Claudius II of Rome, forbade the men of his society to marry, under the belief that marriage (and presumably love) made his soldiers weak, St. Valentine was there to secretly wed lovers.

Under punishment of the royal crown, Valentine, a priest with a desire to expand, express and grow love, was jailed and sentenced to death.  Inside the dungeon prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, made known by his letters from behind the bars, signed simply, “Valentine.”  He was put to death on February 14th.  

In another version of the story of Valentine, Emperor Claudius Gothicus decapitated a priest named Valentine because he healed the blind daughter of an aristocrat who then converted his entire family.  The skull of the priest was said to be put out for viewing and the body stolen by a pious widow and buried along the road to Rome where a church was later built. 

And if you want even more old church options, check this out.

Whether you are attracted to the chocolates and flowers, the running drunk and naked while being whipped to increase your fertility, sending love letters from your stuck place, or something entirely different, I implore you to share your love. 

I beg you to let your heart crack, spread, crumble open to be soft as flower petals, juicy as fruit, and fierce as a whip as you let yourself love.  

I have been cynical, doubting, frustrated, broken-hearted, and completely depressed about love.  I have wished it away, blocked it from my life, turned away in the face of love, and longed to be known.

We humans are wired to not just believe in love, but to seek it, create it, share it, and bask in it.  Love is connection.  It is the moments of being seen and known and appreciated as you are.  It is a knowing, a recognition, a look in the eyes with another that says, “I see you.  I know you.  I am here with you.”

There have been times in my life where I struggled to show up for someone else or where I did not or could not believe when someone showed up for me this way.  

And so, I looked in the mirror, gazed into my own eyes, and said those things to myself.  

“I see you.  I know you.  I am here with you.”

For the most fundamental element of love is presence.  

Please, go be present with yourself, your beloveds, and the possibilities of magic that emerge when you show up with love.

I love you,


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